HOC Talk – Will Reed – Swimming for World Gold Medals – what it takes!

As far as inspirational talks about beating the odds are concerned, you can’t get more off the scale than young Will Reed.  Will was kind enough to come into the Home of Compassion Care Home in Thames Ditton to tell the residents all about his training, nutrition, travel and winning World Gold Medals for DSS Team GB.

This charming 25 year old young man has Down’s Syndrome, but he hasn’t let that hinder his dreams.  This is a man who swims 200 lengths before breakfast; which goes a long way to explaining his 5 a day Weetabix habit. 

Although Will bakes cake regularly, you will not see a crumb pass his lips, his nutrition is too important to him.  All his meals are made from scratch and he brought in a nutrition board to show us what a strict diet he maintains to enable him to continue swimming at world class level.  We feel compelled to mention that will only drinks milk or water – no other beverages, ever!  Will’s favourite meals are spaghetti carbonara and any Chinese food.  Apart from baking, his other hobbies in his very limited time off include the all important football, bowling, movies and attending his brother’s gigs; afterwards quite a few residents duly checked out “Rex Orange County” on YouTube. 

Will holds down a couple of jobs: one is voluntary, teaching adults to swim and the other is paid, working for the local Lensbury Club, where one of our residents also used to work – and yes they did exchange gossip.  Will has also recently passed a 3 day first aid course, which he rightly seems very proud of.  He also provides time keeping at his local swimming club to help the athletes keep track of their times which is especially important when training for upcoming competitions. 

There are also different locations for Will to travel to for training in the pool.  He trains at Stratford in London which was the venue for the Olympics in 2012 and his swimming club, the Hounslow Hurricanes, also use a few local pools.  Each pool provides a different environment with varying lengths and water temperatures, so getting practice in as many pools as possible is advantageous when it comes to competing around the world. 

The first World Championship that Will attended was in Italy.  Subsequent travels for various championships included Mexico, and Canada; in Canada DSS Team GB came first in the medals table.  Come September the European championships will be held in Sardinia and Will has already got his qualifying times to confirm his place on the team. 

Will’s sporting endeavours don’t stop at swimming.  As part of the fund raising for financing training facilities, Will is doing a sponsored 10k run next week to add to the training piggy bank.  And on the subject of funding, you will be pleased to hear that they have secured sponsorships from Sky Sports.    

The DSS Team GB has team mates from around the country and Will networks with them via his weekly blog and social media; this bonds them all with a strong team spirit and helps more geographically isolated swimmers based in Scotland and the Isle of Wight feel included. 

Whilst we are all super impressed by Will getting up at 5am to swim 6 days a week, Will’s biggest challenge is his goal of living independently.  Will currently lives in a house with 5 others who are all learning the art of looking after themselves.  There are rotas for cooking, cleaning and washing and everyone helps each other as much as possible so that they can eventually attain and, most importantly, maintain living on their own financed by their own wages. 

Bronze, Silver and GOLD medals were handed round for the residents to try for size and Will had a quite a task getting one of them back.  We then ended this fascinating talk with a Q&A session.  Residents asked about the strokes he enjoyed and Will admitted that although breaststroke was his strongest, butterfly had a special place in his heart.  When one of the residents enquired how Will started swimming and he casually explained it was because his Dad had pushed him into the water; we heard a resident mumble something along the lines of “new definition of pushy parent”. 

Will kept everyone engaged and interested at all times and it was a pleasure to have such a charming and approachable speaker entertain us for the afternoon. 

Home of Compassion

Home Manager

Avril Jones


58 High Street,
Thames Ditton,

0808 223 5406
View care home

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